In what was a fascinating season of racing in this years’ Castrol Toyota Racing Series, we’ve seen some drivers prosper, whilst others ran into strife. We have a look at some of the drivers who surprised and struggled in New Zealand’s premier open-wheel racing series.
Igor Fraga – SURPRISED
Heading into the 2020 Toyota Racing Series, Fraga was expected to be one of the front runners, given his pace in the Formula Regional European Championship last season, as well as his achievements on the esports scene. But the way in which he asserted himself as Liam Lawson’s primary championship rival, with consistent performances and raw pace was particularly impressive. He was able to control the field when he was up front, something evident in the New Zealand Grand Prix. Fraga is set to race in this years’ Formula 3 championship with Charouz Racing, alongside Niko Kari and David Schumacher. If the past five weeks are anything to go by, Fraga will be one to watch.
Émilien Denner – STRUGGLED
What initially started off as an impressive car racing debut for the young Frenchman quickly descended into a nightmare. After taking his first race win at Teretonga Park, the remaining ten races consisted of six retirements, two Did Not Starts and only two race finishes, with a best result of 12th at Hampton Downs. He season ended on lap eight of the New Zealand Grand Prix, spinning out of the race at turn one. As his car was hoisted away, an understandably dejected Denner would have been wondering what could have been.
Franco Colapinto – SURPRISED
Coming off a successful Spanish Formula 4 season, the 16 year-old Argentine entered the 2020 season seeking to prove himself. Colapinto started the season relatively well, but grew stronger as the season went on. Throughout the New Zealand Grand Prix weekend, Colapinto had established himself as one of the fastest throughout the field, sometimes eclipsing the pace set by Lawson and Fraga. Finishing third in the standings, collecting Rookie of the Year honours, and second place in the New Zealand Grand Prix, Colapinto had impressed greatly in his first season of racing a Formula 3-spec car. He will be one to watch for the future.
Yuki Tsunoda – STRUGGLED
Tsunoda was touted as one of the favourites to challenge Lawson for the title. However, the highly-regarded Honda-protégé perhaps failed to live up to the expectations set before him. Outside of a win in the second race at Highlands Motorsport Park, Tsunoda’s results were inconsistent. Qualifying performances sometimes saw the young Japanese driver down in the bottom half of the field which, in effect hampered his overall race results, putting him nearly 100 points behind Lawson in the standings. Red Bull Junior Team expects much from its drivers. And whilst fourth place in the drivers standings looks good on paper, inconsistent performances, as well as the lack of pace relative to Lawson makes for more concerning reading. Red Bull have set Tsunoda an apparent ultimatum of a fourth-placed finish in this years’ Formula 2 championship.
Gregoire Saucy – SURPRISED
Not much was expected of the young Swiss driver upon entering the 2020 TRS season. After a quiet campaign in the ADAC Formula 4 Championship the preceding year, Saucy was consistent throughout the majority of the championship – hovering around the top six for the majority of the championship. This meant that for much of the season, he was ranked third in the point standings, ahead of the likes of Colapinto and Tsunoda. Manfeild proved to be a difficult round for 20 year-old, but would still collect sixth overall in his first season of TRS.
Caio Collet – STRUGGLED
The season started off very well for the Renault Sport Academy driver. But his season would be beset by a string of wretched luck and mildly inconsistent results. After scoring the pole and winning the first race of the season, Collet would be penalised following a practice start infringement, demoting him to seventh. After Highlands, Collet never truly regained the speed demonstrated in Cromwell. A good performance in the New Zealand Grand Prix and a race win at Teretonga were the only other highlights for the young Brazilian. Hopefully he has a change in fortunes should he return to New Zealand in 12 months.